Harisa - Kashmir’s favourite winter cuisine is traditionally sold in shops mostly located in Srinagar. But with the passing time, this winter delicacy has made inroads to Kashmir restaurants and now to your doorsteps through the internet.
Hayat Shafi, a young entrepreneur has started Harisa delivery - Harisa By Kilo’. A student of Business Administration, Hayat says that he loves eating Harisa and that is where this idea to start this entrepreneurial venture came up. It was out of his love for this delicacy that he decided to give an option to people to relish this winter delicacy at their homes, the idea was to make Harisa available at just a click away.
“Couple of years back, we were having homemade Harisa at home. Being passionate about entrepreneurship, I thought why not bring this winter delicacy to one’s doorsteps through the use of social media and tools of the internet,” Hayat said.
In recent times many young entrepreneurs are bringing Kashmiri food to our doorsteps through online cloud kitchens and other food outlets.
The traditional wazwan, the homemade Kashmiri food has already made it to online businesses. Harisa is the latest one that has made its way from traditional Harisa shops to online platforms.
Hayat says that the main challenge he faced was to bring this delicacy to doorsteps but without compromising the quality.
“There is a special feeling of having Harisa at a shop in the early morning. Usually what happens is that when we bring traditional things to delivery and online system, there is a fear of losing quality. We did a lot of research so that this won’t happen. Before we started we held quality testing sessions."
"We looked for the best Harisa cooks in Srinagar, and then we held trials. After short listing a few cooks, we went on for tasting the product. We did all this so that our product won’t lose the taste and it will be as tasty like it is in traditional Harisa shops. After we made our product, we sent it to our known and unknown people without telling them it is our product. It helped us to get honest reviews and get our best cook. This is how our Harisa by Kilo was started in early 2020,” Hayat said.
As Hayat started the journey, he roped in his younger brother Hashim Shafi to handle the social media. Since the team only gets orders through their website and social media platforms, they said that a full-fledged team of social media was essential.
“We have a team of three people for social media. One can order from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. There is also a simple and user-friendly website that will help you to order within a click. Given my business administration background, it helped a lot to frame the business model. We managed a full team of delivery boys, logistic, cooks within a month and the response has been very good,” Hayat said.
Hayat Shafi said initially, they struggled to deliver amid snow and cold from their unit at Nowshera Srinagar. However, he says that his will to do something different kept him going.
“We added three delivery boys so that deliveries can be smooth. We are a rare delivery service that will deliver your food amid snow and that too in the early morning. We usually deliver via two-wheelers but when there is snow or rain, we switch to four-wheelers. The idea is to give the best service even if the returns are monetarily low at times,” he said.
Hayat started the journey alone with an idea in his mind, after two years they have a team of over a dozen people which include production people, logistics, and social media team.
One of the unique things that the ‘Harisa by kilo’ team did was by introducing the clay pots. Their clay pots of Harisa have become a symbol of Harisa delivery in online circles. Hayat says that the idea of introducing clay pots started because they wanted to keep it environment-friendly.
“Being environment friendly was not the only thing on my mind. Harisa is a traditional thing and we wanted to give it a traditional touch. It also helps us to keep the environment clean and makes our deliveries look beautiful and classy. There is one good nature of clay pots that it helps us to keep or product warmer which is not possible in plastic boxes,” he said
Hayat said that, other than giving employment to many youngsters, their venture is helping in giving some business to pottery making.
“I don’t know if that is much but I’m doing my bit. We should always keep our traditional craftsmen in consideration when we start any business. While accepting new technology, we should not forget our roots,” he said.
Hayat Shafi said that the idea to bring Harisa online is all about using new tools to keep our tradition alive. He said as long as we don’t compromise the quality, there is no harm to blend new technology with old traditional things like Harissa. Hayat said that so far best feeling that he gets is the feedback of his customers.
“Last winter we delivered an order in the Nishat area. It was heavily snowing and we woke up during dawn prayers to get on with our work. We delivered Harisa at 8 in the morning. The one who ordered said that he was not expecting delivery amid such heavy snow. The look of happiness on his face was the best thing that I have seen in a long time,” said one of the delivery boys from Harisa by kilo team.
Hayat Shafi said that they are planning to expand to other districts in the coming days. Young entrepreneurs like Hayat Shafi are taking a lead in using traditional ideas and new technology to earn and give the best service to the people of Kashmir.